Recent investigations of fluid pressure, morpholo gy, and enzyme activities of skeletal muscle exercised eccentrically or concentrically in normal human subjects are reviewed. Intramuscular pressures were measured before, during, and after submaximal exercise and correlated with subjective muscle soreness, fiber size, water content, and blood indices of muscle enzymes. High intensity eccentric exercise is characterized by post exercise pain, elevated intramuscular pressures, and swelling of both type 1 and 2 fibers as compared to concentric exercise. Thus, long periods of unaccustomed, high level eccentric contraction may cause muscle injury, fiber swelling, fluid accumulation, elevated intramuscular pressure, and delayed muscle soreness. Training regimens of progressively increasing eccentric exercise, however, cause less soreness and are extremely efficacious in increasing muscle mass and strength. It is proposed that on Earth, postural muscles are uniquely adapted to low levels of prolonged eccentric contraction that are absent during weightlessness. The almost complete absence of eccentric exercise in space may be an important contributor to muscle atrophy and therefore equipment should be designed to integrate eccentric contractions into exercise protocols for long-term spaceflight.